The Zen Business

ZenOfMoneyI like my life. It’s good. I have a lot of freedom. I have a shaky and unpredictable, but generally reasonable income. I have people all over the world who like what I do and help me do it. I love my job.

If any of the following sounds like complaining, I’m sorry for my poor writing skills. I am not complaining. I just feel like a lot of people I interact with ought to know this stuff.

My new book will be out in March. I’m working on arranging speaking engagements, retreats and whatnot to promote the book and to just continue doing my job in general. I often get invitations from people who want me to do this sort of stuff in wherever they are.

There are loads of people out there who appear to believe that I should do what I do for free. The dharma should be freely given, they say. My response is that the dharma should be freely given, but not freely taken. In ancient India monks could give their teaching for free because it was understood that they’d be provided for. This doesn’t work in early 21st Century America or Europe, or, indeed, even in 21st Century Asia, including India. I’d like to address how it actually does work, at least in my world.

I am a one-man, self-financed operation. I am severely incompetent at running this operation. I’m not trying to be funny. It’s the truth! If I could fire me, I would.

I do not make enough money to even consider hiring someone to help (it’s barely enough to cover my own expenses). Hiring unpaid volunteers has never worked out either. They tend to just disappear suddenly or demand so much help in doing the job that I end up doing it myself.

How about a little story to illustrate what’s involved in what I do?

A few years ago, back when I was first starting out, a meditation center located about six hours drive from where I lived at the time asked me to come speak or lead a retreat. I told them how much money I’d like to receive. The figure I quoted was based on how much I thought it would cost to go there, spend the necessary nights at a hotel, feed myself, and come home with something to put toward my rent.

They seemed aghast that I would ask for such an outrageous amount for just a few hours talking and meditating. So I said I could do it for half that amount as long as they agreed to find me a place to stay for free and feed me. I said this knowing if I did it that way I’d be coming home with a lot less to put toward next month’s rent. This amount was still too much for those guys.

So I came down again. This time what I asked for was exactly what I thought it would take to break even and bring precisely $0 back home with me. But I would only break even at that amount if absolutely everything went exactly according to plan. If, for example, I had a flat tire on the way out there it would totally wipe me out. If gas prices rose that weekend, I’d be screwed.

But even that was too much. The folks from the center acted as if I was the worst sort of money-grubbing fake-ass guru in the world for even suggesting I get paid at all. In the end, I didn’t go there. I never heard from those guys again.

When you invite me to come speak at your town there is a lot more involved than the hour or two I’m on stage or even the days I spend leading a retreat. Depending on the location it might cost me anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars just to get to where you are. I also have to put aside other work I could be doing.

A simple one-hour talk involves at least three days work for me; one day to get there, one day when I do the talk, and one day getting home or to the next gig. That’s in an ideal scenario. Usually it involves about a week.

During that time I can’t do any other work. I write every single day when I’m home. Before a new book is out I’m already deeply into the next one. Or else I’m writing my blog or an article someone’s asked me to do.

But in order to work well, I need the proper setting. It’s physically possible for me just open my laptop and start writing pretty much any place. But in real life that’s not how it goes. If things are a little off, the writing doesn’t flow. If there are people talking, for example, or if there’s music playing, or kids running around the place, or if there’s no desk to sit at… There are all kinds of factors that make it pretty much impossible for me to really work on a piece of writing. My apartment is set up to make it as easy as possible for me to write. And even then sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

So when I get invited to do a speaking gig, that’s at the very minimum three days to a week when I can’t do any other work. So you’re not paying for an hour of speaking. You’re paying for a week.

By the way, it costs me pretty much the same amount of money to come to your town to run a multi-day retreat as it does to do a single one-off talk for an hour.

I often try to combine events to cut down on expenses so that I can ask as little as possible for the work I do. So if I have an event in one town, I’ll try to set up a few others nearby. I always check to be sure these events aren’t competing with each other. But sometimes people resent the idea that I’m using their event as a springboard to do other things. That’s annoying because generally the reason I’m able to keep my fees as low as they’re getting is because of these other events.

Staying at hotels is almost never an option for me. The only times I’ve stayed at hotels while on tour is when some event organizer gets me a room. This has happened maybe four times in the past ten years.

That means I sleep on a lot of couches or in spare bedrooms or in rooms that someone has temporarily moved out of so I can stay there (usually somebody’s kid gets to sleep over at a friend’s place and I get the room with the frilly pink bunk bed that’s two feet shorter than my legs).

As I get older, this kind of 19-year-old-punk-rocker-on-tour existence grows progressively less and less exciting and romantic. The kindness and hospitality of these strangers offering up space in their homes is always touching. Very seldom have I had to stay in a place that was truly awful. But it’s happened and I never know when the next one will be.

This is because unless I’ve stayed at a specific place before (which happens at about ¼ of the places I go) I have no idea what I’m getting into until I get there. Are they people who have very different ideas about how warm a place should be than I do? Does the shower work? Are they people who like to have TVs blaring all night long? Is the bed actually going to be a bed or will it be something else? Are there children and pets? If so are they the good kind or the difficult kind (see my book Zen Wrapped in Karma for an example of the latter)? All this and more, I do not know.

Another story. Once I stayed with this guy in a city in Europe. I like to eat cereal for breakfast. I also prefer to burden my hosts as little as I can. So on the way to his place I stopped by a convenience store and bought a box of cereal and a carton of milk. When I got there he looked at my cereal and milk with disgust and said, “I am politically opposed to that kind of food.”

This kind of stuff is stressful. Which is something else that’s a factor. I can’t possibly do this kind of work 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year like a normal job. It would kill me! So whatever you think is a fair hourly wage doesn’t really have any realistic analogue in the kind of work I do.

Then there’s what’s involved in getting from one place to the next. Will there be trains? Will I have to fly? If so, is anyone coming to get me at the airport? Will I need to rent a car? If I don’t know at the outset (and I generally don’t) I have to plan for the most expensive scenario.

And speaking of punk rock, just like in punk rock gigs I have often finished a retreat or whatever somewhere and whoever put it together comes up to me after and says, “I know I promised you a certain amount. Unfortunately we only brought in a third of that. I’m sorry. I hope it’s OK.”

But unlike in punk rock, it’s not OK for me to trash their Zen center in retaliation. Nor do I have a Peter James Grant-type manager to threaten to break their legs unless they come up with the rest. I just have to smile and say, “All men are brothers” then try to figure out how I’m gonna manage till the next gig (and hope they don’t do the same thing).

So, yeah, I know, that famous ever-smiling teacher in the simple ochre robes who is on the cover of every Buddhist magazine appeared in your town and all he did for payment was pass a simple wooden bowl around at the end of the talk. But he was also probably passing that simple wooden bowl around Madison Square Garden where Richard Geer, Uma Thurman, Jeff Bridges and their pals were in attendance.

I don’t usually get gigs like that.

* * *

Our Saturday morning zazen in Culver City now starts at 10:00 am!

* * *

Registration is now OPEN for our Spring Zen & Yoga Retreat March 18-20, 2016 at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, Mt. Baldy, California

*  *   *

Check out my podcast with Pirooz Kalayeh, ONCE AGAIN ZEN!

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I’ve got a new book coming out soon! Stay up to date on its release schedule, my live appearances and more by signing up for our mailing list on the contact page

UPCOMING EVENTS

February 3, 2016 Ventura, California Ventura College

February 28, 2016 Houston, Texas Houston Zen Center

March 5, 2016 Austin, Texas Austin Zen Center

March 18-20, 2016 Mt. Baldy, California SPRING ZEN& YOGA RETREAT

March 25, 2016 Venice, California Mystic Journey Bookstore 7:00pm

April 22, 2016 New York, New York Interdependence Project

April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”

October 23-28, 2016 Benediktushof Meditation Centrum (near Würzburg, Germany) 5-Day Retreat

ONGOING EVENTS

Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!

Every Saturday at 10:00 am (NEW TIME!) there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info

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One of the main ways I make money when I’m not on tour (or even when I am) is through your donations to this blog. I won’t get any of the recent Angel City Zen Center fundraiser money. I appreciate your on-going support!

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48 Responses

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  1. moniker42
    moniker42 January 26, 2016 at 3:45 pm |

    They say Zen masters sell water by the river. I attempted to source that quote and found only a book with that expression as the title, which raised all kinds of questions about ethics and search engines. I couldn’t find your email address. I looked. I was curious if it was a deliberate choice not to include Three Pillars of Zen by Phillip Kapleau on the list of Zen books. I might have also included The Little Zen Companion among several other books but who is complaining.

    1. mtto
      mtto January 26, 2016 at 3:52 pm |
    2. Fred
      Fred January 26, 2016 at 3:58 pm |

      There aren’t any questions of ethics concerning selling water by the river.

      If you want free enlightenment just go ahead and do it. There’s nothing stopping you but the you.

    3. minkfoot
      minkfoot January 27, 2016 at 10:49 am |

      It was hard to find that source. Daiun Sogaku Harada, founder of the Harada-Yasutani line which Philip Kapleau was part of, wrote the poem:

      For 40 years I’ve been selling water
      by the bank of a river.
      Ho! Ho! My labors have been
      wholly without merit.”

      It was displayed at his funeral. Don’t know if it counts as a death poem.

      I think it’s quite possible the phrase “selling water by a river” has a longer history.

      There may be better books for a beginner, but . . .

      When I first got interested in Zen, the only books I could find were by Watts and D.T. Suzuki, and mentions by beat writers. There was nothing about what you actually did. Then Three Pillars came out in widespread distribution. It described practice well enough for a person to begin doing it. But I remember a passage in it where it was strongly recommended that a person wanting to practice go to a teacher or center and be physically shown how to sit. I found just one place around Boston at the time that was anything like a Zen Center — the Cambridge Buddhist Association. I rang the bell at a regular-looking house near Harvard Square and a young Japanese woman named Miss Toda opened the door, let me in, put me on a zafu, and straightened me out. A couple of years ago, I read the autobiography of Elsie Mitchell, the founder of the CBA, and found mention of Miss Toda in it.

      So, whatever the relative merits of his book for beginning zazen, I owe three bows to him, and three more to Miss Toda!

      That was in 1966. This year marks my fiftieth year since beginning practice, I’m ashamed to say.

  2. tysondav
    tysondav January 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm |

    I am not complaining, and if it sounds like I am then you are misinterpreting it. But here are several paragraphs that sound an awful lot like complaining…

  3. Dogen
    Dogen January 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm |

    I would occasionally sit with Kevin’s group in Somis and dana the usual $5 a session. I stopped going after getting an email saying that I should give $15. Kevin is great, but he’s not like super fabulous great.

    1. Alan Sailer
      Alan Sailer January 26, 2016 at 6:34 pm |

      Kevin also makes it clear at the end of each meeting that donations are completely voluntary.

      As he phrases it “no-one is ever turned away for lack of money”.

  4. anarekey2000
    anarekey2000 January 26, 2016 at 4:49 pm |

    “When I got there he looked at my cereal and milk with disgust and said, “I am politically opposed to that kind of food.” What an asshole.

    1. Fred
      Fred January 26, 2016 at 5:06 pm |

      And then the Aghori said I am politically opposed to your kind of food. I only eat shit and human remains.

  5. sri_barence
    sri_barence January 26, 2016 at 5:11 pm |

    There is a $45/day fee for most Kwan-Um retreats, assuming you are not a member. I’ve always felt it was reasonable to charge a fee. I don’t see why Brad’s talks or retreats should be any different. So long as Brad doesn’t start asking for $250K just for showing up.

  6. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara January 26, 2016 at 9:48 pm |

    It is bad to carry even a good thing too far. Even concerning things such as Buddhism, Buddhist
    sermons, and moral lessons, talking too much will bring harm.

    ~ Hagakure

    Zenbiz sounds like a real PITA. Worth a good whinge, man.

    One of these lifetimes, I’m gonna get myself a big fat enlightenment. But if anybody offers to turn me into a travelling preacher, I’ll offer decapitation, and let him reconsider.

    At the time when Lord Nabeshima Tsunashige had still not taken over as heir, he was converted by
    the Zen priest Kurotakiyama Choon and learned Buddhism from him. Since he had had an
    enlightenment, the priest was going to confer the seal upon him, and this became known
    throughout the mansion. At that time Yamamoto Gorozaemon had been ordered to be both
    Tsunashige’s attendant and overseer. When he heard of this, he knew that it absolutely would not
    do and planned to make a request to Choon, and if he did not assent, kill him. He went to the
    priest’s house in Edo and entered; the priest, thinking that he was someone on a pilgrimage, met
    him in a dignified manner.
    Gorozaemon drew near him and said, ‘ ‘I have some secret thing to tell you directly. Please send
    out your attendant priests.
    “It is said that you will soon award Tsunashige the seal because of his cleverness in Buddhism.
    Now as you are from Hizen, you should know in large part the customs of the Ryuzoji and
    Nabeshima clans. Our country is ruled with harmony between high and low because, unlike others,
    it has had continuous heirs for successive generations. There has never been the taking of a
    Buddhist seal by the daimyo for ages past. If you present the seal now, Tsunashige will probably
    think of himself as enlightened and regard what his retainers say as so much dirt. A great man will
    become vain. Absolutely do not give this award. If you do not agree to this, I too am resolved. This
    he said with determination.

    The priest’s color changed, but he said, “Well, well. You have trustworthy intentions, and I see that
    you under- stand the affairs of your clan well. You are a loyal retainer . . .”
    But Gorozaemon said, “No! I understand that ploy. I didn’t come here to be praised. Without
    adding anything else, let me hear clearly whether you plan to cancel the seal or not.”
    Choon said, “What you say is reasonable. I will definitely not award the seal.”
    Gorozaemon made sure of this and returned. Tsunetomo heard this story directly from
    Gorozaemon.

  7. french-roast
    french-roast January 27, 2016 at 1:38 am |

    Just a suggestion like that; you haven’t thought of getting a real job? I think you have been a little bit to long in the entertainment business. A very good friend of mine spent 25 years in jail for multiple murders, he was previously the chief of a criminal gang, during the first year of his jail sentence he had a deep awakening and spend the remaining of his jail sentence reading about Zen and meditating. When he came out, he was looking for work, but the only work he found, was to clean public lavatory, which he still does after many years. We see each other frequently and he tells me every time that he enjoy doing this kind of work. Maybe we should all give it a try.

  8. Baba Ling
    Baba Ling January 27, 2016 at 2:12 am |

    Jeez, I’d say that taking the grief you take from the douchebags who apparently show up here to post because they’ve run out of people who will actually tolerate listening to whatever bitch and moan they happen to be suffering from at the moment is worth quite a lot in itself.

    Of course, since I don’t have a “real” job either (yes French Roast, bite me), and ergo zero income, I can only offer a little.

    I love you Brad and understand fully. If you ever need a place to stay near Boston, I’ve got space, a functional thermostat, quiet, and tend to treat my honored guests with all sorts of due respect.

    Thanks for what you do.

  9. Le Petit Canyon
    Le Petit Canyon January 27, 2016 at 3:18 am |
    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot January 27, 2016 at 11:11 am |

      Clicked on teachers to get names and trads, but all they had was pix. Most of them seemed generic New-Age, but I like the last two. The next to the last made me think of Owen from Torchwood.

  10. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon January 27, 2016 at 3:48 am |

    My poverty of last year was not real poverty.
    This year it is want indeed.
    In last year’s poverty there was room for a piercing gimlet.
    In this year’s poverty even the gimlet is no more.

    – Xiangyan

  11. Shodo
    Shodo January 27, 2016 at 5:16 am |

    For those who maintain “the Dharma should be free”, then I guess to them the “Dharma must be worthless.”

    1. Brent
      Brent January 27, 2016 at 5:54 am |

      LOL, perhaps they mean “the Dharma is priceless.”

      Aren’t monetary concerns ultimately based in fear of preservation of self? (That’s intentionally provocative.)

      1. Shodo
        Shodo January 27, 2016 at 8:26 am |

        “LOL, perhaps they mean “the Dharma is priceless.””

        Then 10 dollars or so for something that is beyond worth seems like a great deal. 😉

        “Giving” is an important part of Buddhist practice, perhaps giving some small due isn’t beyond the pale.

        http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/various/wheel367.html

  12. zucchinipants
    zucchinipants January 27, 2016 at 6:48 am |

    I second the suggestion: get a real job.

    Hakuin famously lived in poverty. Shitou lived in his 10×10 grass hut. Why does it sound like you feel entitled to live in LA and maintain a certain lifestyle? Nobody said you have to keep promoting yourself and your books. You could become a farmer somewhere, reduce your expenses, and still find time to write. Look at Wendell Berry or maybe Gary Snyder. Or the many wise people living quiet lives, not presuming that they have such important things to tell the world in books with flashy covers.

    I think men in middle age (and beyond) start facing the fact that they haven’t become as successful or famous as they imagined they would, and many people have trouble navigating that disappointment. There’s no use envying Deepak or Thich Naht Hanh. You have to come to terms with not being as famous or rich or worth-reading as all those other rockstar gurus.

    As Kodo Sawaki said,

    What a bore: making a long face and complaining about having no money, nothing to eat, and being stuck in debt. It’s only because you believe that you have the right to revel in life and always feel good that you moan and groan about your poverty.

    If the intention of your post was not to moan and groan about your poverty, I suggest that your writing needs work…

  13. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon January 27, 2016 at 7:40 am |

    “The more you stir a turd, the worse it stinks.” – Grandpa Canyon

    1. Le Petit Canyon
      Le Petit Canyon January 27, 2016 at 7:49 am |

      Oui , cela est vrai pour les petites turds aussi (comme Zafu).

  14. Brent
    Brent January 27, 2016 at 7:53 am |

    Brad, get an entry level $15/hr full-time job as a mental health outreach worker for the California Department of Mental Health, or some Homeless NPO. So many homeless in LA. You do what the job requires and in your interactions you can start to help with what you know from Zen. Over time you can start a Zen group for the homeless outdoors. You can do “street retreats”. Take a vow of poverty but don’t tell anyone. Make discomfort an active part of your personal practice. What else do you think this life is for?

    (They’d probably waive the BA requirement in light of your experience)
    http://www.indeed.com/cmp/Sanctuary-of-Hope/jobs/Part-6ff6f282570849b1?q=Los+Angeles+Homeless+Services

    (or this one)
    http://mhala.hrmdirect.com/employment/view.php?req=324635&jbsrc=1014

  15. Thor29
    Thor29 January 27, 2016 at 10:10 am |

    Zucchinipants, you have no idea what you are talking about. Wendell Berry had enough money to buy to buy the farm he lives on and had a teaching job to help pay the bills. You can’t do what he did now, real estate is too damned expensive. Gary Snyder also had a teaching job (and also worked in logging and other hardcore working class jobs that used to pay a decent living) and did what he did in a very different time than the one we live in now. Most people these days that write books actually make their living as college professors – there is almost no money in books unless you are one of the tiny minority like JK Rowling who are mega best sellers. So if Brad really wanted to be like Snyder or Berry, he could get a teaching job. But even that is a dead end now since colleges are bloated with administration and most teaching is farmed out to low paid grad students.

    Thomas Cleary might have avoided being a college professor, but how does he make his living? Do you actually know? And yet again, he’s another baby boomer example. The baby boomers lived in a unique time where all kinds of things were possible that are no longer an option. He lives in Oakland but I wouldn’t be surprised if he owns the house he lives in. Now way he could do it now.

    Brad is doing exactly what he should be doing. For all of those that suggest otherwise, let’s open up your life for examination and let all of the internet trolls and critics rip your choices apart for awhile instead.

    And by the way, I have always found Thomas Cleary’s books very boring and I remember nothing I ever read from him. There is a real need for writers like Brad even if you do not appreciate his work.

    1. Andy
      Andy January 27, 2016 at 11:30 am |
    2. zucchinipants
      zucchinipants January 27, 2016 at 1:59 pm |

      Isn’t Mr.Warner a baby boomer? He’s >50 years old. Maybe he missed the opportunity boat by spending his productive years in arrested development — playing as a punk rocker and indulging in monster movies. Too bad.

      I don’t know how Thomas Cleary makes a living. Maybe he’s a trust fund kid. But I do know that he’s not blogging his complaints about how tough a living it is. Nor is Red Pine, who doesn’t seem to lead an extravagant life.

      There is a real need for writers like Brad even if you do not appreciate his work.

      There are already plenty of watered-down American zen writers. I think the more pressing need is for people to develop an attention span so that they’re able to read beyond the watered-down stuff…

  16. tuberrose
    tuberrose January 27, 2016 at 10:15 am |

    You’re sure taking a lot of flak for living YOUR life the way you want to. Jeez! But I think I understand. A few years ago I had a well paid, high stress job that I had to walk away from and I still hear about the decision I made. But I don’t know why. I support myself, you support yourself and it’s only the business of a third party if that party is paying your bills. And you don’t make anyone donate or buy your books or hire you.
    I might be reading too much into the comments, but I do believe I see some jealousy. It isn’t easy living on a shoestring. There are a lot of downsides to it and not everyone can take the chances those of us who do it take all the time. But there is also a certain romance and I think that’s where the jealousy comes in. I do have some regular hours on an irregular basis, but I have free time when I need it. I don’t have to put up with very much bad behavior from any boss. I have met many very interesting people living the same downsized life that I live and I have learned exactly what I can do without and what is enough. Not everyone can say that.
    For what it’s worth from a total stranger, live the way you want to live and kudos for being brave enough to show your flaws in a public forum. Not too many can do that either.

  17. Michel
    Michel January 27, 2016 at 10:19 am |

    He has tried that before.

    Sorry guys. What YOUR idea of a “real” job is has nothing to do with what a given individual will do. If someone survives on what he/she does, then the rest is none of your business, whatever are your ideas about it.

    As for losing touch with reality, quite a lot of originally good guys just went haywire, not necessarily because they started earning lots of money, but just because they got too big a following. Humility is a keyword, and it seems to me that what Brad demonstrates here, again and again, is simple humility.

    Too many of you confuse this for weakness. Zucchinipants, you are only demonstrating yourself to be an insensitive arsehole.

    1. zucchinipants
      zucchinipants January 27, 2016 at 2:03 pm |

      If someone survives on what he/she does, then the rest is none of your business, whatever are your ideas about it.

      Isn’t it the public’s business when Brad is essential surviving on donations that he’s soliciting?

      Maybe he could apply for welfare, if the guru thing isn’t paying the bills. Then he wouldn’t have to complain on his blog about how tough it is to make ends meet. The government could pick up the tab; that’s what it’s there for!

  18. Andy
    Andy January 27, 2016 at 11:11 am |

    When I went to extend my overdraft as a high school teacher, the bank manager surprised me by asking if I actually enjoyed teaching in state schools. At that time, I think I would have happily spent the rest of the school year cleaning public toilets on the minimum wage. But the sincerity of the question cut through that. I told him something like: I wouldn’t recommend it, but when I talk to my wife about my day, I often realise how much I’ve lived.

    Sometimes I’d carp and cry over the innumerable awful things about a job that would see me shuffling it off at an early age. Sometimes I wouldn’t be moaning but my friends (and I, too on occasion) would miss the alacrity with which I’d regale them with anecdotes on the highs & woes of my experiences and ask me why I carried on in such a job, if I hated it so much.

    I think a real job is the one that lives through you, even if you don’t notice at the time – full of love & hate, frustration & leaping clear at the old school gate.

    So, if you’re into Bunny-Brad lap-dancing in some humble pie poverty monk porn… go see my Bank Manager.

  19. Harlan
    Harlan January 27, 2016 at 11:32 am |

    Brad, You can set your price at whatever you think you are worth. People will either pay it or they won’t. It seems like you would have a lot less stress and more freedom if you just state up front how much you expect to be paid for whatever service you provide. Leave it to the group you are visiting to work out who pays and who doesn’t. That doesn’t have to be your worry. And get enough money sent to cover expenses before you leave.

    Or, You can do what most people do who need extra money. Work two jobs. Isn’t that what your teachers and most teachers do? It’s not so bad if you enjoy it. Good luck to you.

  20. Karan
    Karan January 27, 2016 at 2:54 pm |

    Teaching Zen is a real job, just as composing and playing music, writing stories, etc.
    The problem is that most people nowadays refuse to pay good money for good work in the spiritual and cultural fields. They expect everything for free, or very cheaply.

    If you think that Brad is not doing a real job, you seem to be part of the problem, not of the (urgently needed) solution.
    Sorry for being so harsh, but I just can’t comprehend this kind of attitude.

  21. Brad, what is a job? | Zandtao January 28, 2016 at 12:34 am |
  22. Michel
    Michel January 28, 2016 at 8:52 am |

    It’s exactly the same about music. People expect musicians to play for free whereas everything they can do has been dearly paid for.

    Like one wrote: a musician is someone who packs 5000 euro worth of instruments into a 500 euro car traveling 100 km in order to earn 50 euro.

  23. zacharythax
    zacharythax January 28, 2016 at 10:29 am |

    All right so THAT’S what it’s like.

    I should have made it clear when I was trying to get you to come to Columbia, SC that I HAD the fee you asked for cash in hand and was ready to pay you up front. I had accommodations for you at a local hotel. I think I even made advance reservations.

    I get it.

    My wife’s a musician and I don’t expect anyone to do anything for free . I feel if I would have filled in the blanks a little more it would have set your mind at ease.

  24. Dog Star
    Dog Star January 28, 2016 at 6:48 pm |

    “My response is that the dharma should be freely given, but not freely taken.”

    I agree. And the rest of your post just filled in the details with realistic information–no more, no less. I don’t know why so many people think that simple economics is somehow “beneath” Zen… or anything else. It is what it is.

  25. sfigato
    sfigato January 29, 2016 at 6:51 am |

    One of the weird things about america is that nobody wants to pay for anything, and yet we all want to get paid. We demand our consumer goods be as inexpensive as possible, we blanche at having to pay full price for anything, we criticize how much other people make, and yet we expect to get our 60k a year plus benefits. It’s a combo of our self-centered individualistic nature and how much capitalism rules us. By the same token, life is expensive, and it is expensive to pay someone their 60k a year plus benefits. My child is in preschool full time, and her preschool bill is as much as my mortgage.

    If someone can’t afford Brad’s fee, that’s legit. But to it isn’t HIS problem that they can’t afford it. It’s one thing to ask someone to make slightly less money on a gig. Asking them to eat hundreds of dollars in expenses so you can feel groovy and one with the universe is not cool.

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